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Get Started with Face Painting

(This is a guide only, it is up to you to do your research and decide what is best for you. We do not recommend any particular equipment or brand of equipment).


If you have been out to the local summer fete or school fair you have probably seen a face painter and thought "I could do that". Before you start there are some things that you should consider ie are you just doing it for fun with your own kids or are you going to work on a professional basis in a small or large enterprise.

For anyone starting out face painting on a professional basis it would be wise to take a basic training course with a well established professional to get the basics of how to paint a face and control your brush and to learn basic health and safety. Ideally, then before releasing yourself on the public as a professional you should be able to reasonably paint about 12-15 different faces well and from memory at a speed of approximately 10-12 children per hour.  You DO NOT need to pay hundreds of pounds for a certificate.  Go the Face Painting Association website and there are many experienced face painters available through them that will do courses at a reasonable affordable rate and its all you need.  Also mix with other experienced painters at Jams and Events to pick up tips and tricks.  You Tube also has lots of videos that will help you learn.  You do not need to pay a lot of money just to get a certificate.

Finally, before starting any work in public you MUST have full public liability insurance. To face paint in public without it is putting yourself and the public at risk and many corporate clients will not hire a face painter without full insurance cover.

Finally I should point out here that it is hard physical work and not "easy money" as some may think!





There are many different face paints on the market, the most common being Snazaroo and is the first one usually bought by beginners or the hobbyist. Some other reputable brands to look out for are Grimas, Kroylan, Mehron Paradise, TAG and Diamond FX. All paints have different qualities so it is worth trying different brands as you become more experienced to see what suits you best.

To get started a few basic colours are required, for example:

White and Black - very important as used for majority of line work and faces.

Other popular basic colours are: yellow, orange, red, green and blue.

These colours will enable you to do most of the popular faces such as spiderman, tiger, butterfly and flowers.

All paints used in the UK should be EU approved.

A final word about paints - NEVER use anything but proper good quality face paint on anyone. If it has not been approved or designed for use on the skin do not use it. Only ever use proper face paints for face painting.


Glitter is a must for a lot of children! There are plenty of different types of glitter and glitter gels out there which come in pots, shakers or puffer bottles and are all designed for use on the body or specifically for face painting. Never use metallic craft glitter as it is not safe for use on the body.


A selection of good artist brushes especially a number 6, number 4 and number 2 round brush to get started and maybe a wide flattish one. Don't be tempted to buy very cheap brushes as they don't aid nice strokes even if you are a good painter. Good artists brushes or proper face painting brushes are the ones to look out for. Brushes can come in sable or synthetic or a mix of these. It is down to personal preference what you like to work with and find easiest.


Clean water for every child is a good policy. Nothing looks worse than a painter with a pot of really dirty water. Avoid glass pots, plastic, metal or other non breakable material are safest. Some painters use more than one water container with a slight variation to the clean water for every child policy. Again it's what works for you.

A large bottle of extra water is also useful. You will need extra water in case you run out. If you are in the middle of a field it may be difficult to fill up so carry what you think you might need.


A large supply of sponges is required, as good practice is a one sponge per child policy. If you buy 10 sponges for face painting, cut them in half and you then have 20 sponges. You should be able to get several colours per sponge when actually face painting so shouldn't run out if you buy sufficient sponges initially. Once the child's face has been painted put the sponge in a bag or bucket ready to take home. Wash on a 90 degree wash and this will clean them for the next time.

Sponges can be either fairly firm or fairly soft and here its down to personal preference what you use.


So the children can see your finished work of art!


If you prefer to stand up for face painting a high directors chair is useful as it will save your back from a lot of bending.

Some people prefer to sit and face paint for which two chairs of a similar height might be suitable.


A light weight, easy to carry table of a reasonable size is required to put your kit out on.


Of course every good face painter needs a box to store and carry all their kit. There does not seem to be a perfect face painting box out there and people use a variety of different ways to cart their stuff around from plastic tool boxes to cosmetic boxes. It's all down to personal preference as to what you decide to work with.


Baby Wipes

Handy for cleaning your hands with. Should not be used for removing face paints. Plain water and then soap and water are recommended for removal.

Brush Holder

Useful for storing brushes or you may have the type which folds down and enables you to stand it on your table. Alternatively you can stand your brushes in a pot on your table if you wish.


A bucket under your table for dirty water. You can't keep running to the toilet to empty your water container so a slop bucket works quite well. This can be emptied later. I have three buckets - one for water, one for rubbish, one for sponges.


Excellent for laying your in use brushes on. This works well for soaking up any little drips from your brushes, keeping your table a little drier. It also keeps your wet brushes away from your clean brushes.

Spray Bottle

To spray paints with which may need a little more water to get them going.

Table Cloth

Plastic table cloths are popular with some face painters.


Lastly a word about building a portfolio of pictures. Always use your own pictures to display to the public. Never use another painters and try to claim they are yours as no two painters will paint the same design in the same manner. Each painter has their own style, therefore, if you use someone else's pictures you may be misleading people as to what they are expecting. Also using someone else's pictures without permission is a breach of their copyright and all professional face painters take this very seriously. Click here for more information on copyright.

If you want to take photographs of your work to build up a gallery do remember to check with the parent and if possible get them to complete a permission slip.